There’s a well known phrase that says ‘Rules were made to be broken’.
In many cases I don’t agree, rules are put in place to create boundaries, keep us safe and so on.
But in some cases rules can cause us more harm than good, disadvantage the minority and are for the benefit of things we don’t support.
In those cases when it doesn’t feel right to comply, breaking the rules might be the right thing to do.
When it comes to opening up, do you know what you need in order to feel safe?
A starting point is to ask yourself ‘Will what I am about to say be handled with care?’
I’ve learnt that people often hold their challenges dear. Even if it’s not deeply affecting them now they still require a level of care when it’s being discussed.
For example, you probably want more than just ‘oh wow, glad you’re okay’ when opening up about a past period of depression.
Another question to ask is ‘What do I want from this situation?’
Many times when we open up to people, we want something particular from them in return. But often we don’t realise until it’s too late.
A common example is discussing an issue you’re having and getting annoyed when the other person tries to offer advice or tell you what to do. Turns out you just wanted someone to listen.
And so overall, creating a safe space is a combination of knowing what makes you feel safe, voicing what you need and (as always) picking the right people.
Most people have some kind of plan. Even if it’s just a loose idea of how they would like things to be.
You carry it around with you wherever you go, it influences the choices you make.
You say yes to doing that thing that will help you progress and hopefully make things easier in the long run. You say no to things that are fun, exciting and interesting because you consider them a distraction.
But then sometimes something or someone comes along and disrupts the plans you made.
It could be someone that makes you realise that you’re settling, a listing for an amazing kind of job that you didn’t even know existed or meeting someone that went down a non-traditional route and has managed to make a great life for themselves.
Your eyes become open to the possibilities of life. You realise that the plan you made was created to give you a safe and stable life rather than being something you were truly passionate about.
Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about risk, personal growth and trying new things.
When you do something that challenged you it’s only normal that you would want the risk to pay off.
And when things work out it’s great. You feel good inside because you were brave and it payed off. You’ll probably do that thing again because the good outcome taught you that there was nothing to be afraid of.
But what about when the outcome is not what you wanted. You muster the courage to speak up in the meeting and your points are dismissed.
What do you do?
Do you speak again?
The part of the brain that deals with fear and survival will set off the safety alarm and maybe even go into shut down mode.
When you do something and it doesn’t work, it’s not considered a ‘safe’ option which is why you often end up retreating.
But what I’ve learnt is that the act of being brave is where the focus should be. When you place too much importance on the outcome you don’t acknowledge what it took to do the thing you were afraid of in the first place.
Things can’t work out the way you want all the time, perfection is a falsehood.
What do you do when you think you’ve made a mistake?
In times of great uncertainty it’s not surprising that people look to something safe to cling and commit to.
And so we end up playing it safe. Getting a good job and settling down because it’s easier to follow the rules than it is to actually figure out what you truly want.
But weeks, months or even years down the line you’ll get this feeling of longing and wanting.
This comfortable and stable life that you’ve carved out for yourself is great in some ways but it also leaves you unfulfilled.
You wake up, go to work, spend 8 hours doing stuff that you don’t really care about, come home, eat, talk about your day, watch a tv show and then go to bed. And tomorrow it’s exactly the same.
In a bid to have a safe and stable life you’ve gotten rid of the good stuff. The stuff that gives you the opportunity to learn and grow, to push yourself and see what you’re capable of, to experiment, try new things and to explore yourself.
In a bid to have a safe and stable life you said no to pursuing your dream life.
But why not pursue to the dream life instead and go at it with full gusto. Why not commit to living a life of joy, teach yourself to take chances and be okay with uncertainty. Why not find a job you enjoy, explore new things and visit new places.
Life is very different when you open yourself up to possibility and believe that you can do more than just get by.
I think that in searching for stability you don’t give yourself enough room to explore and take risks. You align yourself in things that feel safe and reliable then convince yourself that it’s what you truly desire.
The pursuit of stability is often about fear and control. As human beings one of our core needs is survival which is linked to staying safe.
But in pursing something that doesn’t have outcome certainty it brings up risk of jeopardising safety and therefore survival.
Perhaps you wanted to make art for a living, but you chose to be a HR assistant instead. The idea of making and selling your work for a living has risk because it might not work. What if you don’t make enough money, you can’t pay your bills, you have to move back with your parents or move with friends, you get evicted, you have to sell all your possessions blah, blah blah
The inner monologue is amazing at getting carried away. You can go from one small inconvenience to thinking your entire life is over. And I think that there is a string need for an awareness for that so that we don’t end up listening to that voice.
You don’t want to end up wishing you’d taken a chance in your twenties, thirties or forties because you decided to live your life in search of stability.
But you don’t have to go in the opposite direction either. Go for what brings you joy, what you care about or what interests you.